The Vanished: The "Evaporated People" of Japan In Stories and Photographs
Lena Mauger, Stephane Remael
A look at the people of Japan who choose to simply vanish when it feels like no other choice can help. This book makes an attempt to explain why so many people (they say 100,000 a year, which seems a bit of an exageration, but I'll need to do more research to dispute that fact) up and disappear from society in Japan. An obvioius, but important connection is made between the weight of a judgemental and unforgiving society to all of this.
Overall this is a wonderful book of photographs... and a lesser work of a sociological study.
There are certainly some intriguing points brought up in the writing, and the sections on Kamagasaki, a stone's throw from where I sit now, (and the only place in the entire country that has ever made me truly nervous to find myself in after dark) are haunting to a point. However, there is little doubt that the writers are in no way deeply familiar with the country, and so instead of a deep look at the phenomena of adult runaways, it is instead a surface study of a society that hammers outsiders and demands conformity. OK. But, it's not the new look that the topic and research promises. In addition, the writers attempt to make connections where they don't belong. Fukushima and nuclear leaks are heavy and important stuff... but they have about 0 connection here. They are forced into the narrative uncomfortably.
Despite those faults, the book gains from the topic itself. I think many people, and most who have interest in Japan will find the topic alone really amazing (and I haven't come across any other English language work focusing on this... if you have, let me know). Along with that, the look at the actual humans who have given up their citizenry if not their humanity itself, in order to hide... those parts of
the book are really revealing and enlightening.
Good enough for a recommendation, if not glowing praise. I'd love to find a book that takes one step from here.
Grab your own copy;